April 18, 2014

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Will the NJ Attorney General investigate the NJ Attorney General?

Part 3 of 4
In my recent posts I wrote about my discovery that (apparently) a County employee tampered with evidence in a computer that the NJ Superior Court had Ordered the County to present for examination. I described this discovery to the Court (Judge David E. Krell); and then a County employee did admit deleting files. Judge Krell was very concerned about this possible spoliation of evidence. In his Order signed September 9, 2011, he wrote,

“AND IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the court recommends that the New Jersey Attorney General (New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety), Division of Criminal Justice, undertake an investigation of … the deletion of files on August 16, 2011, from the Board’s laptop computer … by the County’s computer technician who is reponsible for servicing the Board’s computers.”

During the hearing on September 1, Plaintiffs’ attorneys pointed out that the New Jersey Attorney General’s office had been co-counsel for the Defendants in Zirkle v. Henry. This means that lawyers from the AG’s office had very possibly advised the County employees before and after the evidence was erased. Plaintiffs’ attorneys pointed out that this would mean that Judge Krell was asking the Attorney General’s office to investigate itself. Plaintiffs asked the Court to appoint a Special Master.

Judge Krell explained why he was not inclined to do that. He said, “My understanding is Criminal Justice is totally separate from the Civil part of [the Attorney General's] office.” That is, during the hearing the Judge stated his belief that the Division of Criminal Justice in the NJ Department of Law and Public Safety is sufficiently independent from the Division of Law in the Department of Law and Public Safety, such that it can properly investigate the possibility of criminal tampering of evidence in which attorneys from the Division of Law might have had a role.

I hope Judge Krell is right about that.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have seen so many decisions from judges that make me think that, as a group, they are incredibly naive. This seems to be one more example.

    This naivete seems especially bad when considering possible conflicts of interest amongst the legal profession.

    • rp10007 says:

      When a judge puts something like this in writing, it’s also potentially a notice to the NJ Attorny General’s office that one of its divisions had better be able to investigate another division, or else face sanctions.